Let me just start by saying last night I witnessed a domestic dispute so violent that the sound of, something, banging against the walls of the house next door woke me up at 2 a.m.
No, let me just start by saying that I also witnessed the police act in a way I can only call a hate crime against a trans woman who was trying to help.
No, let me just start by saying that the sex workers of this city are our community watch, they have more presence on this street than the police which are 45 seconds away. They are the heroes of the story.
No, let me start with the terrifying image of the open door of our neighbor’s house, the walls of the hallway covered in blood.
We live on a mostly quiet street in Amsterdam, between a bike rental store on the right and a building on the left that is so comically leaning its bricks wave up and down in a dramatic zig-zag. People often stop to take photos of the neighbor’s cat perched in the window of the very wobbly building. In the wobbly house house live and man and a woman, an Italian woman with long black hair who wears thick buddy holly glasses. She’s tall and thin and strikingly beautiful in a way that always makes me jealous. She lives with a man who we found out last night was her boyfriend.
To the right of our house, two doors down, we have a few red windows that sex workers rent. Sometimes the windows have blue lights, which advertise that the woman inside in also trans. I am on friendly waving terms with many of the women. We don’t live in the red light district, so the women who work these windows are different. Some have beautiful, what I like to consider “real” bodies, by which I mean soft, wrinkled, lumpy, lived in bodies. I like them. For example, one, named Marina, is a regular during the weekdays. Kevin and I think she is a mother working during school hours.
The other week while walking home Kevin noted,
“Oh, Marina moved windows”
“She cut her hair, too. I like it. Maybe I should write a sign to tell her.” I said. I never bothered to.
This isn’t a story about Marina. I just wanted to put something nice in here.
Last night at about 2a.m. I woke up to the sound of banging on our walls from the apartment to the left, the wobbly house, and what I imagined to be kids shouting. Then it began to sound like women shouting. I got up and went to the window when it was clear it was a woman shouting. Outside there was one of the trans sex workers standing on the street, looking into the open door of the wobbly house, shouting and dialing on her phone. In the middle of the winter, she was standing outside in fishnets and underwear, without her shoes on. I heard the Italian woman next door crying and yelling to call the police, shouting “My boyfriend is going crazy, he hit me he hit her he won’t stop. Call the police” Then she shouted her address.
I shouted to Kevin to call the police. He was already half up., and he grabbed his phone.
Then the Italian woman started screaming.
Not shouting, horror movie screaming.
I started sobbing, thinking we were about to listen to a murder. While Kevin called the police, I saw the sex worker shout “Bastardo!” to the open door and then back away, scared.
I opened our front door and beckoned for her to come inside if she needed. She said no, she asked if we called the police and I said we had. She said she had called the police but they weren’t listening to her. This is the part of the story I am calling a hate crime. Because the scared cries of a sex worker aren’t worth the same speedy attention of a man calling.
When the police arrived they went inside, Kevin and I went outside to see what the banging was from. The front door of the wobbly house was open, the wall in the front hallway was covered in blood. Covered.
The sex worker told me that the woman had a head wound.
It looked like she had been pushing against the door, smearing her blood on the walls.
I asked the sex worker,
“The Italian woman? The skinny one with the long black hair?”
“Yeah, I mean I would say more dark brown but yes, her.”
“Is the boyfriend the man who lives here?”
“Yes, I see him walk by all the time, tonight, maybe 20 minutes ago, I saw him walk by drunk, he’s been drinking, he’s out of his head.”
Kevin and I stood by the window for a half hour, until the police escorted the Italian woman to a car, followed by her boyfriend to another police car.
Then we tried to go back to sleep.
So, let me just finish this by saying that all women are women and we look out for each other, that sometimes men only want to listen to other men. That the sex workers of this city are our community watch, they have more presence on this street than the police which are 45 seconds away. They are the heroes of the story.